Man Booker Prize Confirms 'Global Expansion'
The Man Booker Prize, the preeminent English-language book prize, will now be open to all novels originally written in English, regardless of the nationality of the author, so long as they are published in the U.K. The prize has been limited to authors from the U.K., Ireland and the Commonwealth. There had been reports earlier this week that the Man Booker organizers were going to open the prize to Americans for the first time, which provoked a range of responses.
Jonathan Taylor, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, stated that the trustees "have not made this decision quickly or lightly. It was made after extensive investigation and evaluation with the help of specialist independent consultants' research and consultation began in 2011. Over the following 18 months the views of writers, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and others were canvassed on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond."
While they initially considered setting up a new prize for U.S. writers, Taylor said that "at the end of the process we were wary of jeopardizing or diluting the existing Man Booker Prize. Instead we agreed that the prize, which for 45 years has been the touchstone for literary fiction written in English of the highest quality, could enhance its prestige and reputation through expansion, rather than by setting up a separate prize.... We are embracing the freedom of English in its versatility, in its vigor, in its vitality and in its glory wherever it may be. We are abandoning the constraints of geography and national boundaries."
The board also changed submissions rules, allowing publishers with a recent history of longlisted titles to submit more titles for consideration than other publishers. Noting that "the number of books publishers are allowed to submit has long been a concern and we were wary of increasing the reading challenge for the judges," Taylor said the trustees "have agreed to a modified basis for submissions from publishers which recognizes literary achievement; this will be by reference to longlisting within the previous five years." Publishers will be allowed to enter one book, but a publisher with one or two longlisted books in the past five years is allowed two submissions, a publisher with three or four longlistings three submissions and a publisher with five or more longlistings four submissions.
"We are reasonably confident that the new arrangement will be slightly less challenging in terms of reading than the 151 books the judges considered this year," Taylor noted.